Metal profile bending refers to the production of curved lengths of steel, aluminum, brass, and other various metals with specific profile shapes. A profile is the constant cross-sectional shape of a straight length of material. For example, pipes have a round profile in the shape of a circle; a four sided tube may have the profile shape of a square or rectangle. These profiles or “sections” as they are often called, can be elementary shapes or very unique custom designed extrusions. Not only can the profiles vary in complexity, but so can the curved design of the overall product. Advancements over the years have enabled designers and engineers to create the need for curved products with more than one radius in more than one axis.
Seasoned section bending machine operators know the capabilities of their machines and the proper techniques to achieve the best results on various jobs. Operators understand the required number of passes, roll positioning, standard and improvised tooling setups and how the material will react to certain procedures. They also acquire a lot of information over the years and are able to retain and reapply this insight for new and repeat parts. They truly are the brains of the operation. Even still, with all the experience and know-how, expecting a person to manufacture a batch of parts, each identical to the last, in a calculated time frame without the occasional hiccup in production process, speed, or quality control is unrealistic.
In situations where consistent dimensions and quality control is crucial, computers have been integrated with section benders to aid in the production of large quantities of repeat parts. The operator’s responsibility when working with a CNC controlled profile bender is to input the design as a program, monitor the bending process, and modify the program as necessary. Programs can be modified as simply as adding and subtracting values in certain parameters. Some machines may also have the capability to measure the part and use that data to calculate corrections to the program so the parts are made closer to the intended design. Successful programs can be saved and will always produce the same results for the given design and material.
Complex geometries such as spirals, s-bends, ellipses, napoleon bends, and custom curve and tangent combinations can be created with partial or fully automatic operation. CNC bending machines are especially useful for manufacturing OEM Parts. They can produce hundreds or even thousands of parts, to identical dimensions, pre calculating time to complete and lengths of material required for a set of parts. A small amount of test material is required to fine tune new programs, but once finalized it’s as easy as loading material and pressing start. High efficiency and accuracy means shorter lead times for customers and lower operating costs for manufacturers, a win-win situation.